Is the cinema industry dead? by Claudia De Cola

I work in an avant-garde cinema and I have noticed that people are not going very often to cinema anymore. I am asking why. Is there something happening to the film industry? Or is streaming the end of cinemas? Let’s find out. Forewarned is forearmed.

Hollywood wants to change in terms of new financial and distributor models, uploading movies just weeks after their release, as Filippo Santelli states in a 2017 article. Public opinion is divided between those who believe that is right to innovate the system because consumer models are not the same as before, and those who think that, in this way, viewers will lose their interest in the cinema in terms of its purest meaning. “In 1998 we were minded to wait, nowadays (we want) everything and very quickly […]” as Santelli said in the article above, so my questions are what kind of audience does the cinema industry need and above all, should we choose between our the comfort of our sofas at home or the fascination of the  s movie theater’s in order to really enjoy a film.

I have to admit that watching films in the cinemas these days is more expensive than watching them at home. Above all, for filmmakers it is hard to find access to distribution because this is oriented to on-demand use. Streaming has taken control over the way we watch films and television. Everybody knows what Netflix is, for example, and we can’t deny the success and the power it has, as described in these articles (you can check here and here).

The Internet has changed everything, and now cinematographic experience runs the risk of disappearing, as Woody Allen pointed out to Gianmaria Tammaro in a 2015 interview for Wired. It seems that quantity is better than quality. The idea of Cinema meant as a hypnosis in which we need to believe and as a meeting point, is gradually disappearing in favour of a more isolated type of viewing. This is because people have substantially everything at home, so they no longer go to the cinema. What cannot be done at home? Seeing people, talking, sharing time, meeting with the scriptwriters and directors of a movie for example, that’s why it would be appropriate to do cultural research inside the movie market in order to stir the audience if the aim is to bring it back to the cinema as a theatre.

It is clear that if the “experts” fail to strive to save the cinema as an experience like hypnosis, cinema itself is destined to become extinct in favor of the Internet. Nowadays everybody has a specific idea about their preference between seeing films at the cinema or through entertainment companies as Netflix, Sky and so on. It is also interesting see how filmmaking has changed over the year according to audience tastes and of course, how this has also affected the international market.

In my opinion, cinema, in the sense of material place/location, is pure magic. Something unique, a place in which you can sit, leave space for the imagination, see the lights switch off and boom…here we are, feeling I’m actually in the film. I think that only cinema can give this sensation, this kind of sweet isolation, probably thanks to a big screen, the sound system, the room’s darkness, the silence, the absence of distractions such as mobile phones and so on. It is true that streaming is comfortable, sometimes cheaper and a symbol that our society has changed, and it’s also true that people do not have the same tastes as they used to have. So, maybe I have to reformulate the question I was asking before: should we embrace this change?

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